‘Hindraf rally turned Malaysian Indians against government’

May 14th, 2008 - 1:24 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 14 (IANS) Malaysia’s ethnic Indians staged “a silent revolution” against the government, “triggered” by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), during the March general elections, a minister has said. Malaysian Human Resource Development Minister S. Subramanian Tuesday described a rally organised by the Hindraf in November last year as the “trigger factor” that turned the Indian community against the government.

Hindraf had organised the protest rally on behalf of Malaysia’s two million Tamil Hindus. The rally of an estimated 10,000 people was declared illegal and forcibly dispersed by police using water cannons. Five Hindraf leaders were jailed for two years for organising it.

“They were listening all this while and we were just oiling the spring. But the bursting point arrived. We have to rectify this fundamental problem to regain their support,” Subramanian told members of his Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) at a party meet in Malacca.

The MIC, part of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, lost badly in the March polls. The BN itself lost the two-thirds majority advantage, emerging victorious but weaker with simple majority.

The simmering of discontent had been going on for a long time. The MIC was aware of the discontent but could not do much, except to manage it, the minister said.

Subramanian urged BN leaders to accept “the new reality” and change their mindset to ensure that ethnic minorities did not feel “not equal” to majority Malays, he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

“There must be a massive change in the mindsets of BN leaders, particularly those from the United Malay Nasional Organisation (Umno), for the coalition to regain the people’s support,” Subramanian said.

“There must be a conscious effort to provide this sense of equality. This is the secret recipe to solve the problem. The thinking of all leaders should be this: I must be multi-racial in nature,” he added.

He urged MIC leaders at the grassroots level to hold dialogues with the leaders of Umno and other component parties “on the need to change their political thinking in line with new realities”.

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